TOKYO–Three executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company( TEPCO) who rejected repeated urges of a potential tidal wave that could result in a nuclear disaster, which did in fact take place, were found not guilty of criminal omission developing in death and injury by a Tokyo Court on Thursday. Many feel justice was poorly helped. Nonetheless, a former attorney says that the judgment was to be expected.
The Tokyo District Court settled former administrations of TEPCO were not guilty of criminal indifference, in the only criminal prosecution to come out of the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.
The cataclysm at the Tokyo Electric Power Company( TEPCO) Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in March of 2011 resulted in over 100,000 parties losing their residences, wide-spread radioactive contamination, harms, and the deaths of patients who had to be evacuated. The tragedy, on the scale of Chernobyl, collected panics around the world about nuclear energy and atomic safe.
The disaster area has not been cleaned up only and is essentially a nuclear accident still in progress, requiring constant cooling. Radioactive water stored at the TEPCO facilities is likely to be dumped into the ocean next year–probably after the Olympics.
The three former executives of TEPCO who were indicted on indicts of professional failure developing in injury and extinction were: Tsunehisa Katsumata, 79, chairman of TEPCO at the time of the accident, and two onetime vice presidents–Sakae Muto, 69, and Ichiro Takekuro, 73.
The trial centered on whether these three could be held criminally responsible for what the Japanese Parliament’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission called ” a man-made disaster .”
The central issue at post could be summarized as this: Did the TEPCO officials know about the possibility of a nuclear-meltdown-inducing tidal wave, when did they know, and what did they do–or not do about it?
TEPCO’s six-reactor plant, located on the Pacific coast, was incapacitated after tsunamis triggered by the big shake of March 11, 2011 filled power supply facilities, which were unprotected, and debilitated reactor cooling systems. Some reactors suffered ga meltdowns, while hydrogen explosions injury others.
The indictment blamed the three former managers for injuries to more than 10 beings from hydrogen blowups at the flower, as well as the deaths of 44 cases forced to evacuate from nearby infirmaries.
As early as 2002, TEPCO and the Japanese authority are informed about a potentially terrible shake and tidal wave causing a nuclear accident.
The counsels said, and special courts too acknowledged that several times between February 2008 and March 2009 the TEPCO directors were warned of the risk of a tidal wave 14 rhythms( 45 feet) high or higher punching the power plant and compelling a potential nuclear catastrophe. On March 11, tidal waves between 11.5 and 15.5 rhythms( 50 hoofs) did affected the power plant, beating out the electricity grid and, yes, as predicted for years, prompting the nuclear catastrophe.
There were also independent reports that suggested the quake &# x27; s trembles caused a nuclear meltdown in the 40 -year-old Reactor One even before the waves stumbled, but those allegations were not considered by the court.
The verdict, which made several hours for the adjudicators to finish reading out loud–starting at 1:15 p.m. and ending around 4:30 p.m. with a short break–concluded that while the TEPCO execs did receive various forewarns of a tidal wave large enough to cause a nuclear accident, they were justified in taking no safety measures for a number of reasons 😛 TAGEND
1) If they had taken the notices gravely and tried to make countermeasures it would have expected them to close the plant down temporarily, which was considered prohibitively expensive.
2) There were questions as to how seriously to make the data about tsunamis.
3) Even if the TEPCO execs had acted on the threats, they probably wouldn’t have completed safe countermeasures in time.
In reaching the decision, the court stated that tsunami forecast information was sketchy, and that the three has not been possible to have “realistically” foreseen a catastrophe on such a grand magnitude.
It made the evaluates so long to read out the interpretation for their rule because as ex-prosecutor Nobuo Gohara clarifies,” Legally the judgment performed gumption but on an emotional level, gut tendency level–it all seems bad and the adjudicates must know that. They wanted to convince people their sense stimulates gumption .”
Residents of Fukushima Prefecture made the judgment less gracefully.” It’s a humiliation. It’s a slap in the face and it shows that the courts now ever cost revenues over parties ,” said a 67 year old-fashioned farmer from the region who had come to hear the decision himself this afternoon.
Former prosecutor Gohara observed,” There are limits to the Japanese justice system and I have said from the start that it was unlikely the individuals would be found guilty. What “youve got in” the Fukushima Nuclear disaster is a failure of policy and of the entire organization. Japan does not have a legal mechanism for nursing a corporation held accountable for criminal action, and in this case the charges were criminal negligence–on an individual level. The obstacle is very high had demonstrated that .”
The trial of TEPCO managers almost never took place at all.
In June of 2012 occupants of Fukushima Prefecture referred criminal complaints against TEPCO senior executives and central government officials to try to make sure someone was found responsible for the nuclear accident. As noted, the Japanese Parliament’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission called it ” a man-made disaster, ” so it would seem to follow that husbands should be promotion accountable.
However, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor &# x27; s Office decided not to indict anyone named in those complaints. In usual Tokyo Prosecutor &# x27; s Office fashion, they purposely tried to bury the narrative at first by leaking their decision not to prosecute on the day Japan won the bid for the 2020 Olympics.
Despite the best efforts of the prosecutors not to serve the public interest, a prosecutorial review board decided on two separate occasions that the former directors should be indicted and made to stand trial. The Prosecutorial Review Board system was introduced in May of 2009 as part of judicial reforms in Japan that included the introduction of a modified jury organisation. If eight of 11 citizens chosen for the board agree that the prosecutors have failed to do their job, and that definitely an indictment is warranted–on two separate occasions–the individual identified must stand trial. The law marks civilian lawyers to act as prosecutors, who then indict the individual. In February of 2016, the three onetime managers were indicted formally. The trouble began in June of 2017. All of the former administrations alleged not guilty. The prosecution asked for five years in prison.
It should be noted that even after the TEPCO execs were indicted, “theyre not” jailed, although the charges were very serious and involved loss of life. In Japan, supposes in criminal cases frequently are arrested and held for up to 23 periods. But the executives of TEPCO, who is currently politically connected, are all part of what the Japanese public now angrily refer to as Jokyu Kokumi ( upper-class citizens who are above the law) so they remained at large during the entire trial. Carlos Ghosn, the onetime Chairman of Nissan charged with far lesser crimes, but a immigrant, squander months in custody without indemnity while lawyers tried to extract a admission.
Miwa Chiwaki, a 49 -year old woman who was living in a small village in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the meltdown, was scandalized by the verdict. She is the spokesperson for a group of citizens supporting the pursuit of criminal justice in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
She told The Daily Beast,” It’s as if the Japanese courts said that there is no one responsible at all. The reason that TEPCO ministerials would have had to shut down the power plant to articulate safety measures into place, therefore they had reason not to do it, prepares no sense. It is the same as saying corporate profits substance more than parties. The Japanese courtrooms care more about the well-being of a company than a person. At least the action been proven that they knew of the danger…and did nothing .”
The designated attorneys in the case provided for may appeal and involve a second trial. In Japan, lawyers do have the right to appeal a lawsuit. Not guilty decisions are rare and occur in less than one percent of all criminal cases. In general, attorneys almost always plead when losing the first round, but the prosecutors in this case are civilian solicitors. It is not clear what will happen next, or if anything will happen at all.
Nuclear power plant operators in Japan have faced costs of criminal inattention developing in fatality in the past and were found guilty. In April 2003, the Mito District Court met six of employees of JCO guilty over a lethal nuclear accident. They ruled that the company had allowed works to use containers to rain uranium mixture into a processing tank, justification a nuclear fission chain reaction that resulted in the deaths of proletarians. The guilty were given suspended convicts and acted no time in jail.
Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer who represents the 5,700 Fukushima residents who entered the original criminal complaint, said in a press conference,” It’s a terrible judgment. Yet, if there had been no allegation, the evidence would have never seen the light of day. In that impression,[ the contest] has a historical significance .”